Photo from guestofaguest.com
By Hunter Frederick
On February 20, 2017, the earth shattered and cracked into two as people actually used the words “awesome” and “cool” and “MTA” in the same sentence. I am referring to the arrival of the Supreme MetroCard. Businessmen, students and subway lurkers alike were probably very surprised to find their usual MetroCards were a bit redder than usual. Then the hypebeasts got wind of it and pandemonium ensued.
I remember my roommate telling about it when he found out through an article on The FADER Monday night. We were both pretty excited, because we might finally be able to own something Supreme without spending a ludicrous amount of money, but the excitement was half-assed sort of, because living on campus meant an over $20 round trip to make it to Manhattan to pick one up. There were reports of long lines and people buying as many as they possibly could, and I had not heard anything about a fight over them yet, but I felt certain one would happen eventually.
Luckily, I had plans to go into the city on Wednesday night. I googled “supreme metro cards,” did my research and found a station near where I would be that had the Supreme cards. I was determined to get my hands on one; just one and not to resell either– I had planned to actually use it for as long as I could. I imagined myself reloading a tattered Supreme card well into next year, when the excitement had come and gone, and Supreme cards could be found discarded on the ground just like their normal yellow predecessors.
I took my trip and I had planned to grab a card before I got on the LIRR to come back to campus. This was, in hindsight, maybe a bad decision. I had no way of telling how long the line would be and therefore no way of telling how long it would take me to get a card. Being the excellent person I am, I also offered to get one for my roommate and some of my friends back home, who go to college or live elsewhere and would otherwise miss out on this experience.
Regardless, I had settled on the Spring Street station, in between Lafayette Street and Mulberry Street. I got there and saw a line of people in front of me, not long enough to discourage me, but long enough that I got that uneasy feeling you get when you know you might miss your train. As I got in line, I sized up the people in front of me. Most of them were of the aforementioned “hypebeast” variety.
Urban Dictionary defines a hypebeast as a “sneakerhead who only rocks hyped up [clothes] to get props because of a lack of self-worth or style”. This is more or less in the ballpark, even if it is extremely harsh. I am no expert on slang terms, but I would define a hypebeast as someone who is very into brands and fashion, who is always looking to have the newest or rarest of highest status things. Some examples include people that buy Yeezys, people that shop exclusively in SoHo and people that think repping one clothing brand over another is ground to no longer count someone as a friend. The ironic thing is, I give all these definitions of what a hypebeast is, but if I had the money, I would probably shop exclusive on SoHo as well. I even know what pair of Yeezys I would buy if I magically found $900 on the ground and got to keep it but only if I spent it in a financially irresponsible way. (“Bred” Boost 350 V2’s in size 13, for those who were wondering). It is easy to make fun of hypebeasts, but how many of us can honestly say that we would not do the same as them if we could.
Anyway, as I stood in line behind a guy wearing a Supreme brand North Face jacket and clutching some sort of Supreme duffel-bag-fanny-pack thing, I began to wonder how long this would take. It was about 7 minutes before the person that was going at the machine walked away, and I was relieved when he did and the small line crawled forward. I discovered a little while later that he had gotten back in line behind me, which I appreciated because it indicated that there was someone sort of courtesy rule in effect where hogging the machine for 15 minutes was frowned upon. Who says New Yorkers are inconsiderate?
Time passed and the line inched forward. It was not until I was next in line that I realized I was not quite sure how to buy a card. Did I have to press a certain button on the menu? Was it cash only or something? Luckily, I learned from watching the guy in front of me. This did not make me any less anxious about the whole thing. Would I get up to the machine only to find it out of Supreme Cards? Would someone try to get handsy and rob me of them on my way out? There were only a finite number of places to get them and it would be easy for muggers to stake them out.
Right around the time my anxiety had gotten to the point where I was wondering if someone had attached a credit card scammer to the MetroCard machine, it was my turn. I stood in front of the machine and mimicked exactly what I had seen the people in front of me do. I pressed yes and acknowledged I would be charged $6.50 (I had forgotten the $1 fee for a new card) and then it happened. My card slid out of the slot and the machine and for a moment, I was panicked. It looked just like any other MetroCard on the front. But when I grabbed it and flipped it over, the word “Supreme” looked back at me. Those slightly italicized white letters on a red background filled my heart with joy. I now held in my hands what I had once only seen on the internet or on a rare passerby on campus. I only took a second to bask in my success; the line I had been on had not gotten any shorter and I was not going to be the asshole who broke the unspoken rule of courtesy.
I got the rest of the cards I needed and put them safely in my wallet and put it in the chest pocket of my jacket. I had the mindset that I probably would run into any trouble, but if I was going to, no one was going to take these cards from me without me noticing. Then, I got on the 6 train, partly because it was right there, partly because I needed to get uptown fast or risk missing my train back to campus and partly because I was still a little paranoid about being mugged for the cards.
I made it back to campus safe and sound and posted a picture of the cards I had secured for my friends in our group chat the following morning. I soaked up the praise like a sponge. Overall, I think it is a cool thing for Supreme and the MTA to do, because it jazzes up a usually boring part of commuting around the Five Boroughs. And it was fun to be a part of a mad dash to get some limited edition item, even if my part matters only to myself and no one else. Like I said before, I plan to use my card until it expires. I see no value in having something just to have it. I personally also do not understand the people who are trying to flip the cards on eBay or Facebook. I do not think they are rare enough for a profit to actually be made; maybe if you were to get one and hold onto it until they are discontinued. Maybe if you were to do that and wait a few years and keep your card safe and pristine, and then try to resell it, when there is a gap in the market and there are no more left. Seems a like a solid idea right? I thought so too, right when I was going to walk away from the card machine. So I brought an extra one for myself on impulse. Let us see what these things go for in a couple of years. 😉